Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Importance of Using a Code Talker (Especially when dealing with the government)

As part of the Murphy-Wenzel seminars held in Boston last fall, I delivered one speech on the importance of understanding how the elite speak in code.

During my speech, I explained the importance of bringing a lawyer into the middle of a situation where the wrong phrasing of something you want to do could result in your ending up in jail. For example, if you are running a business and there is some absurd regulation that prevents you from doing something you want to do, you may try and bribe the official who oversees the regulation. This, of course, could result in your ending up in the slammer. However, if you bring a lawyer into the middle of the picture ,a lawyer can talk code to get the deal done, no jail time required. I bring this up because of a remarkable object lesson of this principle.

Walter Block has a wonderful book, Defending the Undefendable, in which he defends, among others, blackmailers. Unfortunately, the population in general does not hold Block's view on blackmail, and so any attempt at blackmail could result in a blackmailer ending up in prison. That is, of course, if you don't hire a lawyer to get in the middle of the blackmail.

Rachel Uchitel, who had been seeing Tiger Woods while he was married, hired a lawyer to get in the middle of her attempt money extraction from Woods. She hired super code-talker Gloria Allred to represent her . Woods ended up settling with Uchitel for $10 million. That's how you get blackmail done.

On the other hand, Karen Cunagin Sypher attempted to blackmail high-profile basketball coach Rick Pitno. They once had a sexual tryst in a restaurant. She did not use Allred, or any other lawyer, she tried to pull off the blackmail on her own, instead of getting the millions she was demanding from Pitino, a judge just gave her 7 years in the big house. Ouch.

After Allred's fee, Uchitel probably ended up with $7 million. So there you have it, find the people that know how to talk code and you may walk away with $7 million. Try to do it on your own without knowing how to talk code and instead of  $7 million you may end up with 7 years of your life taken away.

As Federal, state and local governments become more intrusive in our lives, there may be a temptation to go around some law, pay a bribe, whatever, just to keep a business going where you are not hurting anyone. Keep the Uchitel-Sypher contrast in mind. Never pay a bribe directly or skirt the law in some fashion that could cause blowback on you, find a creative lawyer who knows how to talk code and get the deal done for you, without exposing yourself to criminal risk. Paying the code talk will be well worth the fee,


  1. I'm a Code Talker-to-be and couldn't agree more.

    This morning I awoke to read a chapter that, among other things, tried to explain how a phrase found in one law had an entirely different meaning when found in another, albeit related, law. Until reading this post, it didn't even register to me how insane this would be to an outsider.

  2. Hmm -

    Dubious advice here.

    Allred at least seems to know she has an obligation to her client. There are plenty of lawyers out there who might think cutting a deal with the Feds is a better career move for them than keeping your fanny out of the slammer.

    You could end up doing 7 years still, with no 7 million in sight.

    At that point, getting NOTHING for your pain and suffering (like the other Tiger ladies) starts looking good.

    Kind of like having nothing is better than being zillions in debt.

    Plus, we don't know how Uchitel ends up, do we?
    Maybe, she falls for some guy who takes her the same way she took Tiger.

    And then it will be, Look who's crying now...

    This is where we Tory-Bohemians think better than garden variety 'Libs."

    We don't mistake the road map for the road...

  3. @Lila,

    You should have been at the seminar, I talked about how to pick lawyers and about situations I am personally aware of where code talkers got people out of some very delicate situations.

    Notice, in my post I did say you need to find a creative lawyer.

    Bottom line: Like doctors and investment advisers, some are terrible, some are mediocre and a few are outstanding.

  4. @Wenzel

    I sure wish I'd been at that seminar..and I'm not saying this isn't good advice IF...

    IF you're well-stacked...or well-stashed, in this case.

    But for the average guy, best to steer clear of the law altogether, unless it's life and death, or it's someone you know for sure will be on your side when push comes to shove - which it will, with the government.

    That said, these days, out of those three professionals, the one you really can't do without at some time is a lawyer.

  5. Er, I meant well-stashed....or well-stacked, in this case (preferably both, of course).